No afternoon athletic contest
God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Ephesians 6:10-12 MSG)
No "afternoon athletic contest" for us! We are in a life or death battle - to the finish! That means there must be consistent training and the right "arming" of one's self with all the tools we need to withstand the constant barrage of attacks coming our way. We cannot find those tools simply by being "stationary" and "inactive" in our spiritual lives. The tools we are given to resist attack are "put on" - they become part of our lives by osmosis!
Sunday church goers, you are probably going to get a little offended with me right about now, but don't hate me. There are thousands upon thousands of individuals who proclaim to be Christian. Of these multiple thousands, many will line the pews of their respective neighborhood churches on Sunday mornings, nodding when the pastor makes a "solid point", and even making an occasional "amen" heard. Yet, when they cross the threshold of the church doors back "out into the world" they will remember nothing of the message they heard, nor will it "outfit" their lives with any resources they actually will use.
Why is this the case for so many who "attend church"? I think it is because we have become a society of "passive followers" of Christ rather than "actively engaged disciples" of Christ. There is a distinct difference between the two, my friends. One might think church attendance is very important, but if it doesn't do more than provide a social outlet for you to reconnect with a couple of friends you love to hang around with, it hasn't really done much of what it was intended to be when we gather together.
Church isn't the place we go - it is the lives we lead in between the times we warm those pews! It is the way we respond to the driver who is going at snail speed in front of us down a one lane road, or the degree of patience we exhibit toward that child who just doesn't want to pick up his or her room. It more than pointing out a need - it is the way we zero in on a need and find a way to meet it. It is teaching in action - hearing that good message should promote some action within us - not just give us warm fuzzies.
As we start a new year together, we can determine to become more consistent in not only hearing, but in doing what we are being taught to do. Obedience is action oriented - it isn't optional! Just sayin!